Can a Dog Bite Cause Nerve Damage?

    A dog bite can be incredibly damaging both physically and psychologically. After the initial shock and pain fade, dog bite victims may find themselves with lasting consequences. These issues may last for the rest of their lives, constantly reminding them of the physical and emotional trauma they were forced to endure. It is important to assess these potentially permanent health consequences after a dog attack, especially since some injuries may result in more medical bills if ignored. If you fail to get treatment and an accurate diagnosis, you may walk away with a financial settlement that does not reflect the true extent of your injuries. 

    Nerve damage is one of the most serious injuries a person can endure. This type of injury can lead to loss of range of motion, making it difficult for victims to work and earn a living. It can also lead to decreased sensation and numbness, affecting the quality of life of victims and preventing them from enjoying some of their most beloved activities. But can a dog bite injury really cause nerve damage? Let’s find out. 

    How Dog Bites Can Result in Nerve Damage

    To understand the concept of nerve damage, you must first understand how the nervous system works in the human body. Nerves are best described as a “wiring” system in the body that transmits messages to your brain. There are nerves located throughout your entire body. Without the nervous system, we would not know when to drop a hot pan or pull our feet out of the fire. Nerves transmit pain signals, allowing us to react quickly to dangerous situations.

    But what exactly does a nerve look like? A nerve looks just like a very small electrical wire. Inside these wires, there are bundles of individual nerve fibers surrounded by a protective sheath. This outer layer not only protects the vulnerable nerves but also insulates them. Just like electrical wires, nerves transmit electrical signals. Neurons are typically poor insulators of electrical energy, but nerves have specifically evolved to conduct electricity based on signals dictated by the flow of ions across plasma membranes.

    Individuals start to experience issues when nerves become damaged. This damage may be caused by pressure, stretching, puncture wounds, or lacerations. All of these issues can be caused by dog bites. A dog can generate serious levels of pressure, especially in certain breeds. For example, German Shepards can generate bite forces of up to 238 PSI. This is more than enough force to damage nerves. Nerves may also be stretched by dog bites. For example, a dog might latch onto your limb before thrashing and pulling. This thrashing action can stretch your nerves, causing serious damage. But perhaps the most obvious way a dog bite nerve damage happens is with cutting force. When a nerve is completely severed, you will experience severe nerve damage. 

    So, if you ask whether a dog bite attack can cause nerve damage, the answer is a resounding “yes.” In fact, there are many ways in which a dog bite can cause nerve damage. 

    Symptoms of Nerve Damage after Dog Bites

    If you have suffered a nerve injury after a dog bite, you may experience several symptoms, including:

    • Numbness: Because nerves transmit sensations to the brain, one of the first signs of nerve damage is a general sense of numbness in the affected area. For example, you may rub your hand across a surface and feel virtually nothing. In truth, this symptom is probably one of the most preferable because some nerves only transmit sensations. 
    • Weakness: It may be much more distressing and problematic if you damage a nerve responsible for movement and strength. When these nerves become damaged, you may experience a decline in motor function, which means losing the ability to move certain areas of your body. You may also experience a general sense of weakness in the affected area. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you have probably injured a nerve that carries motor signals. This may affect your ability to engage in your favorite activities, such as sports or art. 
    • Pain: Unfortunately, pain is one of the most common symptoms after nerve damage. Nerves are responsible for carrying pain signals. This means that you may continue to experience pain even after the injury has healed. In some cases, you may feel pain in areas of your body that weren’t injured in the dog attack. This is because if one part of the nerve is damaged, it may affect another part of your body that is connected to the same nerve. 


    Other symptoms include the loss of muscle, changes in skin color, and changes in the amount of sweat in certain areas. Many of these symptoms may be intermittent, appearing randomly before fading away.

    Treatment Options for Nerve Damage After Dog Bites

    If you have suffered severe nerve damage after a dog bite, you may require extensive medical treatment to repair nerves and address symptoms. If you have suffered mild injuries to your nervous system, your nerves may have the ability to repair themselves. Sometimes, nerves can repair themselves in mere minutes. In other situations, these nerves may take weeks or even months to repair themselves. 

    If you have suffered a severe type of nerve damage, surgery may be required to repair the nerve damage. This is especially common if the nerve fibers and sheath are completely severed. Surgery helps ensure that nerves heal correctly. Because of the complexity of certain areas in the body (such as the human hand), these surgeons are incredibly skilled. But even with the best surgeons in the world, sometimes nerve damage is irreversible and permanent.

    Nerve fibers always grow back slowly. Even under the most ideal conditions, these fibers may only grow one inch per month after surgeons sew them back together. This could lead to months and months of healing – with no guarantee of complete recovery. During this healing process, you may continue to experience numbness, weakness, pain, and other symptoms associated with nerve damage. One of the most helpful treatment options during this healing process is physical therapy. 

    Painkillers are often prescribed during the recovery process for those experiencing severe pain and discomfort due to nerve damage. However, you must be very careful when taking painkillers. It is all too easy to become addicted to these powerful medications, and this may lead to more serious issues down the road. Unfortunately, the safest option is often to simply accept the pain and try your best to relax during the healing process.

    Other Potential Complications from Dog Bites

    There are many other potential complications associated with dog bites. Although nerve damage is one of the most severe complications, you should consider these possibilities as well:

    • Rabies: If you are attacked by a dog that is frothing at the mouth and exhibiting signs of aggression, you may be at risk of infection with rabies. Rabies is known for causing acute brain inflammation in humans, and it is crucial that you seek medical attention as soon as you receive a dog bite. Even if you feel like the bite is minor and not worth a trip to the doctor, you should still play it safe and get tested for rabies. This also applies to any other types of animal bites, as other animals can contract and spread rabies too.
    • Psychological Trauma: Perhaps one of the longest-lasting effects of a dog bite is psychological trauma. While physical injuries may heal with time, psychological injuries may never truly fade. Individuals may develop a phobia of dogs after an attack, and they may struggle with issues like PTSD and anxiety. These injuries are just as legitimate as physical injuries. 
    • Disfigurement: Disfigurement affects both your physical and psychological well-being. Dog attacks may leave victims with unsightly scars and blemishes that affect their self-confidence and body image. The legal system in Illinois recognizes the fact that disfigurement is “non-economic” harm, which means that it is psychological in nature rather than simply causing additional medical expenses. 
    • Meningitis: This is a type of infection that can occur after a dog bite, and it can be fatal in many situations. Meningitis causes the inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. If you do not seek medical attention quickly, you may experience fever, vomiting, and other symptoms. 
    • Tetanus: Tetanus is a type of bacteria that can enter your bloodstream due to a dog bite. It is important to get tested for tetanus after a dog bite, as this medical issue can also be fatal under certain circumstances. 

    Where Can I Find a Qualified Dog Bite Attorney in Chicago?

    If you have been searching for a qualified personal injury attorney in Chicago, look no further than the law offices of Palermo Law Group. With our assistance, you can get the legal help you need for dog bite cases. Whether you incurred debt from the medic medical care necessary for nerve damage caused by dog bites or lost wages, you should consider scheduling a free legal consultation with a dog bite lawyer.

    You are likely eligible for a considerable financial settlement if you have suffered a life-altering injury such as nerve damage. Due to the permanent nature of nerve damage, you have the ability to recover a settlement from the dog owner that covers all of your various economic and non-economic damages. Book a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer today, and you can immediately begin working on your dog bite claim. Get started now to pursue justice and compensation. 



    Mario Palermo is the Founder and Lead Attorney at Palermo Law Group in Oak Brook, Illinois. For the past 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to help injury victims and their families in their times of need. He is a seasoned authority on civil litigation, and also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious group of trial lawyers who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. Mr. Palermo has been named a “Leading Lawyer” by his peers in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

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